Obama advocates free elections in Nigeria, others

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The United States President Barack Obama has called on Nigeria and other countries battling with terrorist activities to deepen democracy and to promote protection of human rights.

Obama, who spoke on Thursday in Washington at the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, suggested four ways in which President Goodluck Jonathan, the President of Syria, Bashir Assad, and others to prosecute the anti-terror war, promising that the US would continue to assist them in combating the Islamist extremists.

Currently, Nigeria and Syria are battling to contain violent attacks from the terrorist groups, Boko Haram and the Islamic State, respectively.

“First, we must remain unwavering in our fight against terrorist organisations. When necessary, the United States will continue to take action against al Qaeda affiliates in places like Yemen and Somalia. We will continue to work with partners to help them build up their security forces so that they can prevent ungoverned spaces where terrorists find safe haven, and so they can push back against groups like al-Shabaab and Boko Haram,” Obama said.

Among the four areas suggested by the US President in tackling the current insurgency in Nigeria, Iraq and Syria, was the need to address political grievances that terrorists exploit.

The US president added, “Again, there is not a single perfect causal link, but the link is undeniable. When people are oppressed, and human rights are denied – particularly along sectarian lines or ethnic lines – when dissent is silenced, it feeds violent extremism. It creates an environment that is ripe for terrorists to exploit.

“When peaceful, democratic change is impossible, it feeds into the terrorist propaganda that violence is the only answer available.

“And so, we must recognise that lasting stability and real security require democracy. That means free elections where people can choose their own future, and independent judiciaries that uphold the rule of law, and police and security forces that respect human rights, and free speech and freedom for civil society groups.

“And it means freedom of religion – because when people are free to practise their faith as they choose, it helps hold diverse societies together.”

According to Obama, terrorist groups like Boko Haram, al Qaeda and ISIL, are deliberately targeting their propaganda to Muslim communities, particularly Muslim youths.

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